Everyone says they want Congress to get stuff done, but nothing significant ever happens. That’s partly because the two sides don’t want to give each other any wins. How about a real win-win where compromise means you get what you want and I get what I want? Here’s my original idea for how to give statehood to Washington, D.C., without anyone having to lose. From Real Clear Politics today:
How About a ‘Grand Compromise’ on D.C. Statehood?
By Frank Miele
It was no surprise when D.C.’s delegate to the House of Representatives, Eleanor Holmes Norton, introduced a bill this month to make the District of Columbia the 51st state. After all, she had been doing so repeatedly since joining Congress in 1991.
Only one of the previous versions — in 1993 — made it to the House floor for debate and a vote, being defeated 277 to 153. This version could very well be the second to reach the House floor, thanks to a Democratic leadership eager to seize on any opportunity to paint Republicans as race oppressors and vote suppressors.
You see, it is well known that Republicans will not support statehood for the District of Columbia, where the majority of the population is black, but race is not the issue — politics is. Most of the population in the District — whether black, white or other — is Democrat through and through. Hillary Clinton won over 90 percent of the vote in 2016 while President Trump received a paltry 4 percent, virtually in Jill Stein territory. That makes D.C. statehood a long shot, even though the citizens of the district have a good argument that they are victims of history.
When the Constitution was adopted in 1787, the Founders included a provision for Congress to create a seat of government for the new country from land ceded by a state or states for such purpose. James Madison explained in Federalist No. 43 that the national capital had to be separate from the authority of any state to ensure that the federal government did not become dependent on an individual state.
Both Maryland and Virginia generously donated land for the capital district, but as a result, residents of those areas lost the right to vote in state and federal elections. The district was not qualified by the Constitution to have representation in Congress, nor could district residents have a meaningful vote for president until 1961, when the 23rd Amendment granted D.C. representation in the Electoral College as if it were a state.
In 1978, a new amendment was approved by Congress to repeal the 23rd Amendment and replace it with a provision that would grant full voting rights to the District of Columbia, with representation in Congress as well as the Electoral College. The amendment was ratified by 16 states, well short of the 38 required to be added to the Constitution. Not surprisingly, if you look at the list of states that supported the bill, they are mostly Northeastern Democratic strongholds. Again, politics was a deciding factor against the proposal. Republicans just didn’t see any advantage to granting the opposition party two more seats in the Senate and one more vote in the House. You can’t blame them.
But what if the members of Congress did what they are supposed to do? What if they looked for a compromise?
So is there any further way to ensure full suffrage for the District of Columbia? Oddly enough, the solution also comes from our nation’s dark history of slavery. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 allowed Maine to enter the union as a free state by pairing it with Missouri as a slave state. The issue was the balance of power between pro-slave and anti-slave forces in the U.S. Senate, and while today we face no issue as fundamental as slavery, we do have a Senate that is just as fundamentally divided over a wide number of lesser issues. It seems logical, therefore, to seek out a compromise that would result in full citizenship for our residents in the District of Columbia.
Call it the Washington Compromise, not just for Washington, D.C., but also for the other component of the compromise — Eastern Washington, which for the past two decades and probably longer has been the vassal of Greater Seattle. Voters in the eastern part of Washington state have no realistic chance to elect governors or U.S. senators who will represent them, and they see their taxes going to Olympia to fund projects and agendas they don’t agree with. Why not free Eastern Washington at the same time you create the new state of Columbia?
Read the rest at Real Clear Politics.
Frank Miele writes from Kalispell, Montana, at www.HeartlandDiaryUSA.com and is a columnist at Real Clear Politics. To see more of my columns about the Dishonest Media, the Deep Swamp, the failed presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Trump’s war to restore American greatness, read my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy. The books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Also please considering leaving a review in support of my conservative commentary on one or all of my book pages at Amazon! Thanks!
4 Replies to “Thinking outside the box on D.C. statehood (From my column at RCP)”
Frank, Biggest issue with adding a new state is messing with the symmetry of our flag. Still not sure we should have admitted Alaska and Hawaii. The 50 state flag, I think, lacks the panache of the “48.” As for Eastern Washington, lots of other rural areas around the country are in the same boat–upstate New York, Central Pa, and of course most of Illinois.
If we are going to redistrict the country, I’d vote for gerrymandering by accent. People in upstate New York don’t talk anything like those in New York City, and most of Western Pa sounds like Eastern Ohio. The Philadelphia accent only goes out as far as five counties, albeit very populous ones. The folks in Washington DC sound just like those in Maryland, and not at all like Virginia, so your theory holds out well there. Many New England, as well as Southern states, might be consolidated…
Must admit I hadn’t thought of the flag repercussions! You are a deep thinker clearly! I also bow to your expertise on dialects… is there any way we can give Massachusetts back to the UK on basis of the mother tongue?!?
Your suggestion sounds fair and balanced. But would it move the needle? DC probably left, Eastern WA probably right, government gridlock remains the same. Unless you add “Jefferson State”, rural OR and CA to WA.
Any future states would probably have to be paired entries as well, as a representative of New Nevada told me. That probably paved the way for Puerto Rico statehood as well as perhaps Jefferson.